2022 Lucid Air
One thing that’s truly exciting about the emergence of electric vehicles is the new car makers that are arriving along with them, much like the dawn of the automobile when anyone with a decent design and some financial backing could get a car on the road. That brings us to California’s Lucid Motors and their eye-popping first effort, the Lucid Air.
You could say that this all-new 2022 Lucid Air dropped onto the automotive landscape out of thin air, but that wouldn’t exactly be true; as the atmosphere from which this luxury sedan has emerged is quite dense with technology and performance.
“Well thought out” was the first thing that came to mind when sliding behind the wheel. Rather than just plunk a big tablet on the dash and call it a day, the interior features a more traditional looking layout and even some actual controls, though many of them are touch sensitive. But, as techy as it is, it doesn’t feel overly so; as its 34-inch dash-top display blends in well, and the infotainment touchscreen is low-mounted in the center stack. But with items like the enormous windshield that blends into the roof, you can tell they spent a lot of time thinking of how to make the interior experience familiar but better.
Most things are well put together, though a few creaks and rattles do appear when you start driving it hard, and more adjustment to the steering wheel would be nice. The rear seat is not the easiest to access, but once you get settled, there is a crazy amount of space inside this 5-seater.
Lucid began their journey as a battery manufacturer, so you know their power packs are well-sorted and capable of delivering enough juice to power more than 1,000-horsepower and sub-3 0-60s; not to mention the longest range of any EV yet, 520-miles. Plus, chargers that put energy back in at a rate of more than 13-miles a minute. And it seems to do more with less, as this Dream’s battery, at 118-kWh is not significantly bigger than competitors. Our particular test vehicle is the Dream Edition Performance with the 21-inch wheels; which means dual-motor all-wheel-drive, 1,111-horsepower, and a bit less 451-miles of range.
Like many startups, key Lucid players are defectors from other more established automotive brands including a former Head of Design at Mazda. So, they’ve created a unique looking sedan big on style. Its smooth front, with tucked in headlights, is probably its least attractive angle, as it looks much more elegant from all others; and extremely aero-efficient without looking like it. It’s similar in size to Tesla’s Model S, but stands out a little more from the traditional sedan with a bustle-back style clamshell trunk lid.
Like most EVs in its lofty price range, it’s so smooth and so fast, the driving experience quickly becomes intoxicating; and that “just one time” you push the throttle full becomes a regular occurrence, and you forget all about saving range. We found regen braking to be very easy to get used to, but not as smooth as most when blended with the traditional friction brakes. On back roads, it gets through corners okay; but really, blasting to the next one as fast as possible is the real treat here.
Suspension tuning is an ongoing process even for well-established brands much less startups, so not all Dreams have the same exact ride; but driven aggressively through our handling course at Mason Dixon Dragway, the Dream lived up to its name. There’s well over 5,000-lbs. of weight to deal with, but it sure didn’t feel like it, as the Dream delivered plenty of grip and very little body roll. “Quite European” passed through our minds here.
But, as you can imagine, straight-line runs were the highlight of the track day, with consistent blasts to 60 in just 2.6-seconds and ¼-mile runs taking only 10.5-seconds at 133 miles-per-hour. All of that power and performance, and the Dream Edition still gets a good efficiency rating of 30.5-kWh/100 miles.
As mentioned, a limited-production luxury sedan with this much technology and performance naturally comes with a hefty price tag. The Air Dream Edition goes for $170,500. But, there’s better news on the way, as soon the base rear-wheel-drive Pure will arrive, starting at about half that, $88,900.
You could say the Tesla Model S was a look to the future, but the 2022 Lucid Air Dream Edition does a better job of actually delivering it, with the longest range of any EV yet. America is still full of wide-open spaces; and in similar fashion, the dawn of EVs has opened the automotive landscape wider than it’s been in some time. Will the Arizona-built Lucid have staying power or will it eventually fall victim to its own Grand Canyon-sized hype? We think the odds are definitely in its favor!
- Battery: 118 kWh
- Horsepower: 1,111
- 0-60 mph: 2.6 seconds
- 1/4 Mile: 10.5 seconds at 133 mph
- 60-0 Braking: 105 feet (avg)
- EV Range: 451 miles (Performance) 520 miles (Range)
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
Crossed Up Corolla Gets More Efficient
Toyota offers a hybrid powertrain in just about everything they make, so it did seem odd that last year, when they debuted an all-new SUV version of their long-time best-selling Corolla, a hybrid was nowhere to be found. Well, it didn’t take long for Toyota to correct that situation, delivering this Corolla Cross Hybrid for 2023.
With prices for everything seemingly going up daily, we can all use a little more cost efficiency in our lives. That’s a mission that Toyota has been undertaking for some time now and continues to do it with this 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.
The Alabama-built Corolla Cross arrived just last year as Toyota’s attempt to bring their best-selling nameplate into the SUV era, and give them an additional entry into the most popular automotive segment going right now, small crossovers.
There are some RAV4 styling cues here, but the Corolla Cross is mostly its own deal, and the Hybrid is more than just a fuel efficient option, it has added performance too. So, it’s offered only in Toyota’s S line of trims S, SE, and XSE, where the standard Corolla Cross is available in base L, LE, and XLE.
There are some differences outside, most notably unique front and rear fasicas; the front with a much more aggressive look, with larger grille and blacked-out trim.
Black trim and logos in back too, along with a redesigned bumper; plus, you can optionally go 2-tone by adding black paint to the roof.
Great packaging has it feeling roomier inside than most small 5-seat utes, straddling the line between subcompact and compact. And seats are way more comfortable than your typical urban-minded utility.
In fact, the entire interior feels quite upscale, and the layout will be very familiar to those stepping up from an actual Corolla.
Those who put off buying a Corolla Cross until now will be rewarded with upgraded infotainment, as all Hybrid’s will come with Toyota’s latest 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system standard.
The Hybrid’s small battery is located under the rear seat, so there’s minimal loss of rom, with a good 21.5 cubic-ft. of cargo space available; expanding to 61.8 with rear seatbacks folded.
Getting to the heart of the matter, the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s fuel-sipping ways are courtesy of the 5th generation of Toyota’s Hybrid System which outputs a combined 196-horsepower through its trio of electric motors and naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine. One of those motors operating strictly the rear axle for standard all-wheel-drive.
At our test track, there was a nice little chirp of the tires off the line, but that’s where the excitement ended.
So while a 7.5-second trip to 60 may not raise your blood pressure, it’s a full 3-seconds quicker than the standard Corolla Cross we tested last year. We’ll take that!
CVT automatic means engine revs and engine noise both hang relatively high throughout the whole ¼-mile, which took us 15.6-seconds to complete, finishing at a reasonable 90 miles-per-hour.
The Hybrid also gets a “sport-tuned” suspension, and indeed it felt light and nimble through our cone course, very neutral too, with no noticeable understeer or oversteer. Steering was light but still provided good feedback. With some grippier tires, this would certainly give the best handlers in the segment a run for their money.
But the real reward comes in Government Fuel Economy Ratings which are 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined. We averaged a great 43.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular; that’s a 40% increase over the 30.9 miles-per-gallon we averaged in the standard Corolla Cross last year.
But, that does come at a cost, though it’s difficult to make direct comparisons with separate trim families, but pricing starts at $29,320 for the Hybrid, about 3-grand over a base all-wheel-drive non-hybrid. Top XSE comes in at $32,400.
As influential as Toyota is in spreading the hybrid doctrine, it was indeed odd that the Corolla Cross arrived last year without a hybrid option. Smartly, it didn’t take them long to right that wrong, as it was always part of the plan, and the Corolla Cross has benefitted from it greatly. The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is not just more efficient, it’s more capable, and a much better small utility all around.
- Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
- Horsepower: 196
- 0-60 mph: 7.5-seconds
- MW Fuel Economy: 43.3 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: e-CVT
- Torque: 139 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 90 mph
- EPA: 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined